View Full Version : Bit suggestions for VERY strong horse?
16th December 2009, 01:20 PM
bitting issues for hunting.. :(
i thought i had cracked it, i was using a KK something or other, the one with a snaffle ring and then another ring below, he did go well in that but it seems he now enjoys buggering off with me bad ponyy...
so, what is something that is strong- he is very strong, but does stop at the other end... but nothing so strong it will cut his mouth up, although vaseline seems to be solving this..
so any suggestions, we have tried:
bubble bit (or whatever it is called!) jointed dutch gag?
have been told i could add a strap to the above bit? or try an american gag?
Any other suggetions would be great.
He used to do the whole head on the ground and go, but now he does head tucked right in and avoid bit and go.. LOL.. the other issue is he is SO quick and accelerates so fast he runs out of room to stop, so its not like he wont stop its just hes going so fast he can't slow himself down in time...
Hes ridden with a drop nose band and a loose nose band (polo style) which stops him opening his mouth.. and seems to work well
Anyway, suggestions appreciated.
16th December 2009, 01:26 PM
It's a schooling issue, you dont just put in a stronger bit. It wont stop or solve the problem. Train the horse in a better bit to respond to you, then use a stronger bit if you have to.
If a cheltenham, kimble, dutch gag hasnt 'stopped' your horse then im pretty certain not a lot more bits will unless you totall ruins it's mouth. If you cant stop, dont go hunting. Do the hard work at home then go out when your not going to have your horse or anyone else at risk of a run away.
16th December 2009, 01:32 PM
Maybe i should add he is fine in the first bit mentioned for XC, hunter trialing, team chasing.. he is perfectly well schooled, very responsive, its just when adrenaline kicks in its a different matter. he is not dangerous, but i would like more control over our speed.
He hated the kimblewick, the cheltenham gag i don't find particuarly good apart from for polo and the dutch gag was the totally wrong bit for him...
the point is, i don't want to put some massive bit in like a malitary bit because i am worried it will destroy his bit... i was just looking for advice on bits, not on how to school him.
i school him in a snaffle and he goes perfectly well.. its not a schooling issue at all.
16th December 2009, 01:51 PM
If anyone posts that they are considering an american gag after trying a whole heap of other strong bits, i will say the same thing. It is a schooling issue.
If you can school in a snaffle, then you dont need to try several strong bits, otherwise, yes it really is a schooling issue. In a confined arena you have breaks, as you claim you can do halfpass. In a hunting field with other running horses you cant stop or slow down. Breaks or training? training.
You need to take him out alone and work on him responding to your hand in a bit with some poll pressure, rather than leverage, as all leverage will do is bring his head up and back, it wont stop him. To stop a horse you do not use reins alone. Hill work and canter/gallop work with practice at the seat, leg and hand aids working together to train him to back off as and when asked.
A stronger bit will often only increase the problem. yes a lot of people use a stronger bit for one thing, but it is still a training/schooling issue, if it wasnt then the horse would be stoppable. I have used slightly stronger bits on my previous horses for such like as Cross country, but it was a case of them not respecting the request to slow down when asked, which is effectively breaks. Slow and consistent training rather than a stronger bit made the change possible and i could then do XC with them in bits as simple as hanging cheeks. It just takes patience and time.
16th December 2009, 02:05 PM
i don't just haul on his mouth with the rains, i try and not do that so not to damage his mouth and also to make the bit more effective when i give him a good half halt...
I can take him up a hill and practice seat, leg and hand aids and he is absolutley fine, he will slow down, but the fact is when he is high on adrenaline, he is strong. and if you have a solution to lower his adrenaline levels, please let me know!
At 14, he is not likely to suddenly become an amazing hunter, i don't really mind, hes quick, he jumps anything and hes great fun, but i just want to be able to check him up more.
i really dn't think any amount of training will slow him down on the hunting field, he likes to race, he likes to go fast.. that is how he is, and you cannot change that in him. yes i can train him to respect the bit, which he does, but take him onto a hunting field and its a different issue.
16th December 2009, 02:17 PM
I never said you did haul on the reins.
I've trained several horses to 'back off' in a group of horses, one of which was my own pony who disgraced himself at a hunt by carting me past the Hunts master, which as im sure you are aware is a mahoosive no no in hunting. Yes it is very hard to get the horses into the same sort of buzz they get from hunting, but hacking out with a few people and going on a long stretch to ride can and does have the same effect.
It just takes a lot of time and consistency. We were told to put him into the strongest bit possible and heave until he stopped - yes plenty of people would do this, but pull against him and it would make him quicker - this happens with a lot of horses, strong rein/bit pressure can make them lean, and go faster. He was put in a hanging cheek snaffle, up to the cliff tops and rode with a friend sitting as 'deep' as i could and we repeated this for weeks until he learned that when i asked for a stop, it ment stop. This then progressed onto faster work where he had to learn to come to a complete halt when asked, while she still rode on. A hard thing for a horse to do, but he did learn. A high head carriage and speed dont have to come into it if you dont want it to. Scottie, my veteran used to tank off with kids and wouldnt be hauled up. Im really glad they didnt put him in a stronger bit as it would have ruined him. I got the task of being sat on him while others were schooling in the field, and having to hold him in while people worked. Gradually brought this into his training. He still took off like a demon when competing, but he could stop.
My pony now does regular hunting with the family he was sold to and has never carted their daughter - horses are individuals yes, but the training principles are often the same. If adrenalin levels are too high, could always consider a calmer. Something that isnt like ACP but a general may work. Most work on hormone levels but some can take the 'fizz' away.
Plus, if the head is lower, it helps slow the adrenalin rush, so a leverage bit pulling their head up and in theoretically makes the situation worse. A strong horse in a strong bit wont always work, a bit is only as strong as the hands that guide it, but if your pulling back to try and stop them, the bit is much stronger. See my point?
If not, train to lower his head on command without the bridle coming into play. A lower head is very relaxing to the horse, and it can help. My XC mare had been taught to do this which chilled her out as otherwise half way around the course, i'd be almost chewing on her ears. She was a strong horse, but i would never put her in a strong bit as she needed the bit contact to keep the impulsion, with a leverage bit you dont get a true contact on their mouth.
16th December 2009, 02:20 PM
There was a post on H&H about this recently, someone with a big horse that was fine in its bit hacking incl fast work, xc etc but couldnt be held on a hunt...it also rammed its head down. I didnt see the end of the post so cant remember what was suggested in the end but if you have a look in the hunting section you might find it...
Hunting is a very different scenario to any other, and you are hard pressed to re-create it without actually going on a hunt which means that you are stuck between a rock and a hard place :lol:
16th December 2009, 05:14 PM
he was worse when he had his head on the ground, it was like galloping with nothing infront of you, horrible! lol..
i have a few reccomendations off H&H for bits to try with different nosebands etc...
the problem is, he is a saint to hack with as many people as i want. yes hes not going to gallop along at the back, partly because his cruising speed is faster than most, and hes not a following horse, but he doesn't tank off or anything and does settle fine.. so its hard to re-create the hunting atmosphere. fun rides etc. he is a joy, never puts a foot wrong.. it is literally just out hunting. i can stop him when and where i like on fun rides, group hacks etc. he is actually very good at that, as when i got him he wasn't so tried to sort it out by doing what you have described- and it did work for those areas. i did try this out hunting, but tbh. it made him want to catch up more, so just keep him up front where he doesn't run as much.
i was wandering if a calmer would work, but not sure.. he doesn't have any high energy food, he actually lives off hardly anything tbh! lol.. but still has too much energy! so might try a calmer, suggestions?
Xena, have had a look, and lots of useful ideas for bit wise so will be giving them ago.. it really is hard though, he is so good in every other situation, i just can't re-create anything like hunting for him! having said that, he is very good out cubbing aswell, pulls up when i ask etc.. it is just hunting...
until i do find a bit, i will just keep him upfront where he is happiest...
atleast hes a very reliable jumper! i think i would have got stuck in a few hedges by now otherwise!
16th December 2009, 06:29 PM
At 14, he is not likely to suddenly become an amazing hunter, i don't really mind, hes quick, he jumps anything and hes great fun, but i just want to be able to check him up more.
i really dn't think any amount of training will slow him down on the hunting field, he likes to race, he likes to go fast.. that is how he is, and you cannot change that in him.
Sorry but regardless of age, enjoying speed, enjoying racing and enjoying hunting, doesn't mean a horse cannot be re-trained out of these habits.
Going down the stronger bit route will only lead you to a dead end I'm afraid. For example - you try a hanging cheek, not strong enough, so then you try a kiblewick, not strong enough, then you try a pelham, horse becomes dead in the mouth to it, so you try a dutch gag, same happens, then a cheltnam gag, same happens, then an american gag and surprise surprise the same happens again. Have seen it happen too many times and it makes me :fuming:
I can't comment on your riding and I shant as I have never watched you ride but I agree with Black Crow on this, if your having to go stronger and stronger then you need to step back, go back to the simplest bit he is happy in and work on schooling. It is never too late to re-train a horse out of bad habits.
You say he already has two nosebands on, plus a harsh bit. How would you like to have your mouth strapped tightly shut, pressure on your tongue, bars, corners of mouth, poll, chin groove, not be able to swallow, I think you would run away from that too :lol: Maybe he has brakes when working in the school or hacking because he doesn't have so much equipment on??
Have his teeth, tack and back all been checked? If there is a tooth problem it is possible it doesn't show in less tack but as soon as you slap more on it causes pain??
I'm not having a go as don't know you or your riding style or your horse but honestly, you will end up at a dead end with no where to go if you keep going for the stronger bit.
16th December 2009, 07:17 PM
It is not a pain issue, unless it is just switched on by hunting, which i doubt very much! he has had his teeth,back and tack checked.. all absolutley fine!
If its his training, explain this- why is he fine to team chase, cub, fun ride etc. etc. all things that are as close to hunting as possible!? i can do all of these in either a snaffle (fun rides) or a KK something or other!
The fact is he has far too much addrenaline pumping through his system, but i don't know how you can change this. he also likes to race other horses... and i don't let him do this out hacking at all, i make him go behind unless a large crowd where he is happier up front.. this is extremely hard out hunting, i do sometimes just make him walk across a field if i know the hunt is going in a certain direction, but this doesn't really help tbh. as it makes him get more and more fidgety and then he starts to do the leaping thing, which i only hold for a certain amount of time as it just becomes silly trying to circle him etc. when he will canter slowly accross the field...
i have tried hunting in a bubble bit on the snaffle ring, i had NO control whatsoever. so we moved it down a hole and was better, but still not much control.. this was when i first got him and he was not schooled at all, he is now much better schooled but i haven't tried this bit since as it didn't think it suited him to start with, but may try again now he has learnt to canter normally!
The other thing is although he is generally good on hacks etc. there are times when he hasn't been galloped for a while and he just goes, no matter what bit i have in him.
The loose noseband is a polo noseband so is very loose and the drop noseband is needed because without it he rubs his chin raw from opening his mouth (made this mistake!!)...
i really don't know how to re-train him, as he is very well schooled, generally good on hacks etc. and doesn't gallop off at fun rides, team chases, hunter trials etc.
He just likes to be infront though- team chasing he has to be the first horse otherwise he overtakes, and out hunting i try as much as possible to keep him at the front as that is where he settles best... but tbh. other than finding a bit that i can just check him every now and again to say oi, stop being a ***.. i can't really think of much... not sure what affect a calmer would have on him either :/
in a way its annoying he is well schooled because if he wasn't i would be able to take him right back to basics etc. and just re-teach it all, but he is well schooled and so i can't see that being the issue.
16th December 2009, 07:25 PM
:lol: Well just don't hunt then :lol:
If he is as bad as he sounds then it's not only dangerous for you and him, but everyone around you.
I stick with my main point though, going down the stronger bit road only leads to one thing, a dead end and a dead mouth!!
16th December 2009, 07:29 PM
he loves it too much to not.
hes not dangerous in a sense that he has a loose bolt in his brain, and he is also very careful, checking up for corners etc. and he doesn't always do this, its just sometimes when theres a long gallop he just goes and often theres nothing to stop you at the end, like if theres a gate, he stops.. hes the type of horse that will stop at the other end... i just wish we didn't have to go quiet so fast in between! lol...
i really don't want to make him have a dead mouth, and i am VERY careful to not pull all the time, in a way i do just let him run till the end as i know theres not much point in hauling on his mouth, i haul on his martingale so i dont feel like im going to die lol.
im going to try a myler combination and see how he goes in that... but i may just stick with what i have and take him out more, as i also think its due to always being told he can just gallop everywhere, which is obviously not the way forwards! lol.
thanks anyways :)
16th December 2009, 07:32 PM
Sorry, I was going to say the same thing as Tiaki-if it just an issue with hunting-dont hunt! Surely there are lots of other ways to enjoy riding?
16th December 2009, 07:33 PM
im going to try a myler combination and see how he goes in that
Please think very carefully before going down this route. I have seen these combination bits cause SO many problems.
but i may just stick with what i have and take him out more
This sounds like a much better plan :)
i also think its due to always being told he can just gallop everywhere
THIS is a re-training issue which is what myself and BC have been saying all along :lol:
16th December 2009, 07:34 PM
Well said Sam :rofl:
16th December 2009, 08:13 PM
GreyEventer I can see what you're saying 100%.
Hunting is a completely different activity compared to anything else. You can have the most beautifully schooled horse and still have trouble stopping it out hunting. The adrenaline takes over and everything they've learnt tends to go out of the window!
Max is extremely well schooled, an absolute gent in the school and out hacking in every way. Yes he can get excited especially when jumping, but I can normally hold him back in most situations (jumping in the fields, out hacking in company behind other horses etc). However, when he's hunting, he's extremely strong, so much so that his owner sometimes struggles to pull him up. The adrenaline just takes over him and he gets very strong.
We could take Max out all day in a group of horses, he would be fine!!! But he seems to 'know' when it's time to go hunting... he steps off the lorry a different horse almost. Not got a nasty bone in his body, he just gets excited, and we wouldn't be able to recreate that excitement at home for love nor money.
Have you tried bit guards to stop his mouth from getting sore? I found they worked with Ebony, she got a sore mouth with her gag unless she had guards on it. I've heard Kineton nosebands are quite good but haven't tried one myself. Other than that I'd be tempted to try the Cheltenham gag again with 2 reins, so you only use the bottom rein when absolutely necessary, and a short sharp tug may do the trick?
16th December 2009, 09:46 PM
I can also see where you are coming from, and we have the same problem with a few of our event horses.
I know some people who have used the myler combo to great effect, and i used to jump mine in a low port myler wiht cheek hooks, however it was to strong for him and he wouldnt work into it. I have used it on others and find it does lift the front end up. The other bit i would suggest for you would be a short shank tom thumb, with at least two joints, which will make it harder to lean on you.
Personally i would rather see somone in a strong bit, giving the horse a half halt or a little "oi" than see someone leaning back ripping the poor horses face off for hours. (im not saying you do, it is me saying a stroner- or not neccessarily even stronger but different bit , is not always a bad thing.
the other thing i would do is see if you can find a few people who are not jumping, and are hanging back and taking it a bit slower, see if you can join them for a couple of meets, so he isnt always gallop jump gallop jump, and see if that helps.
The Little Magician
16th December 2009, 10:44 PM
I know exactly what you mean, when you say about them sticking their head down and just going for it. Mine went through what can only be described as a mid life crisis, from well behaved to all of a sudden an absolute menice to stop (my friend refused to ride him!). We tried quite a few strong bits and the harder I pulled to try and stop him the harder he pulled back and the faster he went. Really scarey considering if he saw something he didnt like (like his shaddow) he would stop dead too!
Anyway I was advised to use a magennis bit, as it should stop him from leaning on it, not sure if it would have worked though because bizzarely this behaviour stopped about as quickly as it appeared, thank god! He is back to his normal self.
Another person also told me about their mare that used to bolt like this, and the only way she could stop her was to through the contact at her, which meant she had nothing to pull against. She did say it scared the crap out of her the first time she did it, but it worked! I wasnt brave enough to do this with mine!
In normal circumstances I too would say it is a schooling issue, but an adrenaline rush does weird things to people let alone the horse!
Good luck and I hope you find a solution to it soon.
16th December 2009, 11:16 PM
thanks.. i really do think it is purely an adrenaline thing, because you can be going along fine, and then when the hunt goes, he suddenly realises, he steps up a gear, like a coild spring and just goes...
i am trying the whole just let him run, and hold onto the neck piece, although not fully, i may try it on Saturday, see what happens, as he will stop.
Should have said i rode him in a pelham with one rein, not 2...would that make a difference?
cocopops, i may try this and see what happens, i should think he wont be so high on adrenaline, but when back with the hunt will get a rush and off we go! lol.. but something i may try and see what happens!
i am planning on getting bit guards on current bit as i had them on the pelham, and that didn't cut him at all, so will try and get some to help that aswell.
hes a tricky one though, he settles in a bit and then he gets used to it and ignores it, and i try and use a good bit as little as possible, don't pull on his mouth so he doesn't learn to evade it etc. but he still just seems to learn how very quickly!
hopefully we will sort something out soon!
he has always been a bit mad out hunting, but is improving.. first season he was stupidly fast, last season better and now he only ******* off when the hunt are really going in a straight line... :s
thanks for the suggestions :)
16th December 2009, 11:31 PM
I hunted my exracer when he was fit and he used to get very excited and try and get his head down and go, he raced until he was 10 so not that surprising that he was determined to get to the front! I found that either a dutch gag with 2 reins or a double bridle were the best way to give me brakes when I needed them, you can ride on the snaffle if alls going well but you have that extra bit of something to get them to listen if they start to get a bit strong. Also one of the hunters I used to ride went really well in a waterford snaffle as he couldn't set against it. Something else that I find works is rather than pulling constantly try and let them go for a few strides then do a few half halts and collect the energy again, particulary if they're well schooled this works as you're basically collecting and extending so giving them something to think about other than going flat out as well as giving you more control.
Hope that helps!
16th December 2009, 11:36 PM
bimba, thanks.. something else for me to try..
that is a good idea to collect, and let go.. he might think about me rather than being at the front :)
i think yes he needs to learn he can't gallop everywhere, but hes not going to learn that off the hunting field, but i also think that he does need something strong that i can just give him a good half halt in and say excuse me, too fast. lol.
hes very sweet really he just enjoys it too much, he used to be the same with his jumping, galloped at every fence, thankfully we have no sorted this out into a lovely very bouncy canter!
17th December 2009, 12:31 AM
I haven't hunted my ex racer but I ride him in a Dr Cooks bitless bridle all the time. Even when he gets over excited he is so easy to stop. He did manage to get his head down once and was off....overtaking the other horses we were out with at a flat out gallop. When I 'recovered' from the fact that he had bombed off with me, a couple of half halts and I had him back under control again.
17th December 2009, 07:36 AM
Try a Myler combination - I've seen it in action on a friends really naughty strong horse and he went like a dream in it. Part of it is a snaffle and part works rather like a bitless except that it has some more leverage.
17th December 2009, 10:13 AM
just to put my word in. I aggree with Tiaki in that i hate taking the bit bigger and bigger, but i also like having brakes for 'just in case' scenario on one of my horses.
My opinion would be that, if a horse has learnt to go against a mouthpiece at certain times, thn it doesn't matter what the mouthpiece is, he will still try, which will just end up in a battle of wills each time as he's sure he can get away with it, and your sure that your not going to let him!
So i suggest, using something that places pressure somewhere else that he hasn't learnt to go against. Something like a kineton noseband, or a Dr Cooks under his bitted bridly, so that when he goes, you work off his nose which will confuse him and make him respond. You can then still work in the bit you and he both like but have a back up if needed. I dont like clamping a mouth shut on a bit and think a horse should allways be able to comfortabley open their mouths.
Good luck and let us know what works for you...
17th December 2009, 10:45 AM
I've only read the first page of suggestons so appologise for repeating anyone. I know when a horse wants to go they can be tricky to stop, I don't mean bolting, but just running on, getting hold of the bit and "Tally Ho!" LOL!
Anyway, to an extent it's a schooling issue, but in some cases no amount of schooling's going to make the horse respond, and in all honesty I'd prefer my horse to "love" something than be a robot the whole time. Sometimes stronger bitting is the only way to get more control.
A bit I found that helps is a loose ring waterford snaffle, the horse can't get hold of it, when the're not pulling it's soft in the mouth and when they pull, the rider is still able to move the bit in the horses mouth and they tend to listen. I've never had a horse try to duck their head down and bite hold of it and run on. Might be an idea to try one if you've not already?
18th December 2009, 04:44 PM
thanks for all the suggestions. im going to try as many types of bits as possible and see what happens.. will let you know how i get on :D
20th December 2009, 11:20 PM
This is a tricky one and I see both sides of the debate..
Yes it is a schooling/manners issue if he doesn't listen to you out hunting, but I can see why it's hard to work on something at home which is only a problem on the hunting field!
My horse is very much like yours in that he's very good at home, hacking in company, at shows, at the races, but on the hunting field he's a menace. I've only taken him half a dozen times or so, maybe in time he would calm down.
The only thing I can do about it, and it's probably the same for you, is school him out hunting. Not easy, I realise! By 'schooling' I don't mean insisting on leg yield and half pass when everybody else is chasing after the fox, but just try and get him listening and cooperating a little more. For example my Vinny will NOT stand still when he's hunting. He spins in circles, he runs backwards, he hops from foot to foot and he starts digging to Australia.. So if he does stand still, even for a second, he gets lots of praise. When we're on the move, I reward him if he lets somebody past without racing them.
Maybe we'll get there one day. I have SOME hope, because he used to lose his head completely in a race (very scary!). Nowadays he is extremely well mannered to race. So it is possible - but he has raced 6 seasons so is a pro now. Maybe after 6 seasons of hunting he'd be alright..
I agree I don't think a stronger bit is the problem. If he can learn to ignore one he can learn to ignore another. I do everything in a snaffle and if he pulls my arms out it is a simple reminder that my hands are not good enough and I need to work on that!
Vinny used to pull my arms out on every ride and I thought that was just him. Then I started riding a horse who was very sore and sensitive in the mouth and if I took the slightest hold she would be off. I learned to stop her without pulling on the reins (not easy as she was very neurotic and forward-going, and I never managed to do it properly after the flies came out at 5:30am!). As soon as I had learned to ride this mare, Vinny suddenly stopped pulling.
21st December 2009, 03:42 PM
Some horses are just not cut out to hunt!
It's too much excitement for them. Maybe this horse is one of them. You should not hunt on a horse that does not have manners or breaks. It is dangerous for everyone else there. I have know the hunt master tell people to leave for the safety of others - and quite right too in my opinion.
24th December 2009, 11:26 AM
I kind of sympathise with you as my lad Finn is a cool as a cucumber in a school and we have regular lessons with many different trainers including Virginia Peters who has ridden at GP level for the GB Team. With Finn you you can do anything with him in an arena but if you were to put him on a hunting field then thats just a whole new ball game!!! The adrenalin just makes him blow his brains and I think this is probably the case with yours so I think if your horse is this way inclinde then you maybe just have to live with the fact that no amount of schooling and tack changes will not make much difference.
I have taken the choice with Finn just not to take him hunting cause its just to dangerous for us both because he just gets in to much of a tizzy about it all.
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